Volunteer provides boost to women’s football
The development of the female game in Vanuatu has received a boost with the arrival of an Australian volunteer.
Tom McDonald of Sydney, New South Wales, arrived in the country last month as part of the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) programme and will work with the Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) to promote and develop women’s football.
The AYAD programme is run by the Australian Government through its AusAID agency and places skilled young Australian volunteers, aged 18 to 30, on assignments of between three to 12 months in developing countries throughout the Asia Pacific region.
McDonald has more than seven years of coaching experience in the women’s game and will work alongside VFF women’s development officer Rorona Kalsakau, who recently became the first ever appointee in the role.
He is pleased to have come to Vanuatu and is looking forward to making a positive difference.
“I’m extremely excited about the year to come,” McDonald says.
“I have only been in the country for a short while but I’m already taken aback by the passion the Vanuatu people have for the game of football and how naturally it comes to them.
“Our mission is to develop the women’s game to a level equivalent to the men. But my first priority will be working with Rorona to develop and promote women’s football at the junior level. We recently ran the first ever Port Vila schools U-15 girls tournament, which attracted over 120 participants from eight schools.”
McDonald says more such activities are on the horizon and that long-term plans are being put into place.
“We will continue to put on these types of events and use the interest to create an U-17 Port Vila women’s competition later in the year. We will also be putting together a national U-15 women’s squad, who will train regularly for the next two years in preparation for the U-17 OFC Women’s Championship in 2014.”
The profile of women’s football in Vanuatu will receive a further boost this month with a visit by the U-16 women’s side of the Avalon Soccer Club from Australia. The club will work with Kalsakau and McDonald to run coaching clinics for school students around Efate and will play the Vanuatu national women’s team at the VFF academy in Teouma.
With funding assistance from the Australian government, the Avalon club will also deliver much-needed sporting equipment to some schools and hope to make the cultural and sporting exchange an annual event.